State Supreme Court’s lone voice of dissent on TMT accuses colleagues of weakening state conservation laws

State Supreme Court’s lone voice of dissent on TMT accuses colleagues of weakening state conservation laws
State Supreme Court rules in favor of Thirty Meter Telescope’s construction (Source: Hawaii News Now/file image)

HONOLULU -The lone Supreme Court Justice opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope issued his dissent Friday, accusing the court of opening the door to more deterioration of Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources.

Justice Michael Wilson, a former chairman of the state Land Board, took issue with the majority’s finding that because prior telescopes had already substantially impacted the summit, the addition of TMT was not a “substantial and adverse impact” that would have violated conservation law.

Wilson said that essentially means Mauna Kea is no longer protected by the conservation law.

“Under this new principle of natural resource law,” Wilson wrote, “one of the most sacred resources of the Hawaiian culture loses its protection because it has previously undergone substantial adverse impact from prior development of telescopes.”

Wilson argued that the TMT project “eclipses all other telescopes in magnitude” and should not have been granted a permit.

Opponents have asked for more time to seek reconsideration of the Court’s 4-1 decision that upheld the permit, because they were waiting for Wilson to public his dissent.

Legal experts said if the court doesn’t reconsider, telescope opponents have very little hope of overturning the decision.

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